Gallery: Belly art proves to be on the button

UNIQUE artwork was on display in an Essex town yesterday, , but it was not for sale and cannot be hung on the wall.

James Hore

UNIQUE artwork was on display in an Essex town yesterday, , but it was not for sale and cannot be hung on the wall.

The colourful and creative designs were done on human skin and all the canvases were heavily pregnant women who agreed to have their “bumps” painted.

The event was designed to promote a birth festival at Halstead Hospital this summer, thought to be the first of its kind.

Artist Fran Heaver, said gestational art, or bump painting, started about four years ago in the Netherlands.

Yesterday four women, all beyond 34 weeks pregnant, braved the paints as Mrs Heaver turned her creative attention to their bellies.

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Lynn Andress, 35, of Greenstead Green, Gemma Lingley, 29, of Earls Colne, Sarah Murkowski, 24, from Sible Hedingham and Kate Winch, 26, Halstead, all took part.

Some say the unusual process is actually pleasurable to the baby because of the gentle strokes of the paintbrush.

Mrs Heaver has previously painted pregnant women with flowers, fairies, rainbows, a baby swimming underwater and even images based on an ultrasound scans.

Mrs Heaver, a mother-of-two, from Hockley, near Southend, said: “Women who I have painted before tell me they find the whole experience relaxing.

“It gives them time to sit down and just think of themselves in a peaceful and calm environment and, if they want, they sometimes chat with me.”

She will be returning to Halstead Hospital to do more bump painting as part of the birth festival which is being organised by Teri Gavin-Jones, a midwife from Earls Colne who works for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust

Free taster workshops will run every 30 minutes from 10.30am where visitors will be able to try out hypnobirthing, yoga, homeopathy, acupuncture and even belly dancing in preparation for labour.

And for new families, there will be classes on baby massage, baby calming and homeopathy for the postnatal period.

A “man cr�che” will give men the chance to enjoy coffee, cake, magazines and to chat with people in a similar position to themselves.

For more information about the birth festival, call Mrs Teri Gavin-Jones on 07803 187912.

The free event is at Halstead Hospital on Saturday June 6 from 10am to 4pm.